First, a photo update as to what’s been happening at The Ranch:
It’s a girl! And her name is still the subject of hot debate. I will keep you notified as this critical situation develops. But:
1. Mom is still pretending we don’t have a kitten.
2. This is as still as she has been since we’ve started letting her into the house.
3. We’re all (mom included) just a little silly over this fuzzball.
4. We are NOT, I repeat, NOT cat people. We are Labrador people. This kitten just has no manners and cannot tell when she has overstayed her welcome. You would think with all the scratchy things, toys on a stick (ed. note: cat toys? WAY DIFFERENT from Labrador toys.), food, blankets, water, and litter box, she’d have gotten the hint. But she’s stubborn, so this might be a long-haul sort of situation, reader.
And now, a few photo updates as to what’s been happening at The World’s Smallest Apartment:
We've been chewing.
We've been playing.
(We’ve been lamenting that Ansel Adams, I am not.)
We've been a little bit jealous and demonstrating to our brother that I belong to the Black Dog.
So, life with two Labradors at The World’s Smallest Apartment has been entertaining so far.
And now. Corn.
The critical part to this method of preparation is fresh. The corn? Must have been picked THAT DAY. Screamingly fresh. Del Monte is fantastic for making black bean/mango relish, feeding deer, finger food for toddlers, etc. Frozen corn is fantastic for shin splints. With the advent of summer and the fact that every single town, village and crossroads is now touting its own farmer’s market where you can “get to know the person who grew your food” (ALWAYS a good thing) you can get fresh corn. Introduce yourself to the farmer. Ask when he picked it (I’m generalizing, if it’s a girl farmer, please ask HER when SHE picked it.), get to know him. He can do great things. When teamed up with you, the home cook, you both can do AMAZING things. So-fresh corn. For detailed analysis as to why corn must must must be fresh, please see Alton Brown’s fabulous discussion on this point. I’d link, but I’m lazy and want to go to bed early. You can find it. I trust you.
First you slice all the corn off the cob.
I don’t have a photo of that. Use a bundt pan, stick the stalk end of the cob into the hole, and it won’t slip out from under you and cause devastating injury. Plus, fresh corn is surprisingly bouncy, and the depth of the bundt pan means that as you cut, you won’t have to chase individual kernels all over your kitchen. I slice as close to the cob as I dare the first time, and do not go back and make a “second cut”, because once you slice the corn, it starts to release a milky starchy thing, and when I make “my” corn, I’m not going for creamy corn. My mama makes the creamed corn in our household. If you feel like creamy corn, second cut away. I don’t know that I’d do a third cut-I’m pretty sure that would be mostly “cob”, and we don’t eat the cob.
Next, you melt butter in a pan. This happens to be a “paella pan” though we have never ever in our live-long lives made paella in it. We use it for my pork chops, my risotto, and, um, I’m sure my mama uses it for something, but I don’t spend all week at The Ranch, so I don’t really know what.
You want the butter to be very hot, and starting to brown. WATCH BUTTER AS IT BROWNS, it can get smoky and “on fire” very quickly if you aren’t careful. Don’t let the butter scorch. Brown=good. Black=start over. The reason for this is that in my corn, I’m going for a quick caramelization effect on the corn. To achieve caramelization, you have to have hot oil (butter) and cook your desired substance quickly. So very hot butter, but not on fire butter.
Once the high-maintenance butter is at the perfect stage, dump the (low-maintenance) corn in.
Start stirring. You want all the buttery goodness and the corn-y goodness to combine into nirvana. After you’ve got it stirred and started to caramelizing (please don’t look for a caramel color on the corn like you would see on caramel popcorn…it’s not going to happen. Just a hint of brown is all you need to see…) then go get your salt and pepper.
And add. Copiously. Salt to taste (some of us enjoy sodium, some of us don’t) but the black pepper? Copiously. It gives our sweet and buttery corn a nice foil. Oh-and don’t go all fancy with “freshly ground pepper”. This is one time where you really actually do want the fine grind of store-brand “black pepper” that comes in a can and stays in your cabinet for years. Trust me.
Next, the lime.
You put the lime in the coconut...
A few words on the humble lime. 1. Throw it in the microwave for 30 seconds before you cut it and squeeze it. It will change your life. You didn’t know a lime could render so much juice. 2. If it comes in a plastic bottle shaped like a lime? Or a plastic bottle the color of a lime that has an ingredient list and nutrition labels on the side? It’s not a lime. Therefore, you cannot slice and juice it fresh, and therefore, it doesn’t belong in “my” corn. Remember the critical part is the fresh. If you want to live dangerously and use canned lime juice in “your” corn, well, that’s between you and your kitchen. I judge not.
After juicing the lime, throw it on top of the corn, and stir. At this point, the corn should be darn-shootin’ close to done. You don’t want to cook it to death, but you want the raw starchy taste to be gone, too.
Do a taste test, and when done, pronounce it. And then eat.
Now, lots of different cultures (well, okay, the two that I know of are Mexican and the American South, but I’m pretty sure they eat corn in other parts of this world, too) have various toppings that they put on corn. A more detailed analysis of that is a blog post for another time (and probably another blogger) but I will point out one variation you might like to try. In the Mexican culture, corn is often roasted in the husk and dressed with lime, salt, (sometimes chili powder/lime/salt mixture) and cotijia (I know I’m not even close to spelling that accurately…forgive me…) cheese and eaten like that, fresh off the roasting fire. If you had some of that cheese and wanted to throw it in there, I think that’d be sensational-it combines with the lime in a way that makes the angels sigh. Freshly grated parmesan cheese is a nice substitute here, and is equally sensational. Bonus variation-in the American South, my grandmother enjoyed finely chopped home-grown banana pepper on her corn. I have no idea if that is a South-wide thing, or a just my grandmother thing, but it’s a variation, and I am here to serve, people.
Now, let’s see, did I get a pic of the final product?
Oh, goody. I did. See how it’s just a hair browner? And see the pepper? There you go.
And with that…go into your kitchen. Explore. Experiment. Make friends with it.